Mercedes-Benz SA apologises for ad that only featured a white mother

Business Insider SA
Screenshot of the Mercedes-Benz advert with the woman shouting.
  • Mercedes-Benz SA apologised for offending customers with a Mother's Day advert featuring only a white female.
  • The advert, released on Twitter, features a white female in different settings playing the role of a mother. 
  • It sparked widespread outrage, with some users calling for the brand to be boycotted. 

Mercedes-Benz SA apologised for offending customers with a Mother’s Day advert featuring only a white female.

The advert, released on Twitter on May 11, start with a white woman hugging a toddler in front of a Mercedes-Benz vehicle with a voice over saying “dear perfect moms”. 

The same woman is then seen in different settings with the voice-over describing “business moms” to “soccer moms”  and “I’m still really hot - moms”.

“And of course to the best mom in the world, your mom: you all do a great job,” the voiceover ends off saying. "Happy Mother's Day."

The advert sparked outrage on South African social media with several people calling for a boycott of the brand. 

“I think we have different races, so why [stick] to one,” @QiniselaB asked. 

@yola_mtimde thought Mercedes could “switched it up a bit”.

“Like for soccer mom, used one race, Instagram mom using another race, party moms using a different one. Catering to all race moms,” @yola_mtimde tweeted. 

Others thought people were overacting. 

“The only people who were offended are the ones using free Twitter yet they still complain about data as if they are even buying data. I'm so sure most of them haven't even driven a Mercedes-Benz before,” @ndlelankosi said. 

The diffrent faces of the woman in the Mercedes-Benz advert (Screenshot)

Mercedes-Benz SA issued an apology for the advert on Mother’s day (May 13) and removed the advert from their profile. 

The advert is still active on Mercedes-Benz’s international profile. 

“We under-represented the diversity of our followers in South Africa through the use of a single character,” the South African Twitter account tweeted. 

Thato Mntambo, Mercedes-Benz SA spokesperson, explained to Business Insider South Africa that the video was created internationally and not specifically for South Africa. 

“We have apologised for offending." 

Declan Ahern, associate director at consultancy firm Brand Finance, said Mercedes-Benz’s use of one actress to represent all mothers was “short-sighted”. 

“It is vital that brands are wary of using ‘one-size fits all tactics’ in their advertising and marketing models as consumer behaviour differs drastically across borders,” Ahern said. 

He, however, believes Mercedes Benz SA’s response was ‘handled with professionalism’. 

“If Mercedes Benz SA had gone on the defence as opposed to a public apology, the backlash would have been far more significant,” Ahern said. 

He said the old saying 'the customer is always right' still holds true today.

“People were upset that the Mercedes Benz SA advert lacked diversity and it was commendable that  Mercedes Benz SA openly admitted to the oversight," Ahern said. 

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